No matter what your industry, there are likely thousands of people who do what you do. So how do you stand out? How can you make referral partners remember you and potential clients find you among a sea of competition?

I visit a lot of business networking groups, and every one of them have some categories covered: attorney, insurance provider, CPA, realtor. How do I keep them all straight? The truth is I remember the ones who stand out because they do something unusual. By providing a unique business offering, my referral partners give me a hook to stick in my memory and make them easy to refer to contacts.

Take the office supplier who I spoke with recently. Business owners can get their paper and staples anywhere. From big box stores to the suppliers that walk door to door drumming up business, Global Office Solutions has plenty of competition.

To set himself apart, founder Reuben Levy developed a unique business offering that gives greater value to his existing customers and makes him easy to refer: he became a coffee roaster.

With a coffee maker in every office building and break room, providing high quality coffee is a natural extension for an office supply company. It compliments his other services well and gives him something to talk about with new clients.

Staplers and office supplies don't easily create a unique business opportunity

“Have you seen my stapler?” — Milton Waddams from Office Space, by Twentieth Century Fox

As Reuben pointed out, it’s hard to be passionate about office supplies. Sticky notes and staplers don’t generate much conversation, unless you are watching Office Space.

But people are passionate about their coffee. A warm, pleasant cup of freshly brewed coffee can improve even the toughest day of work. By adding fresh-roasted coffee to his inventory, Reuben created a gateway to high quality referrals.

You don’t have to learn a new skill to create a unique business offering, though. Your stand out feature could have to do with your geographic region, niche area, or even an unusual approach. Let’s look at family law for example.

According to the State Bar of Michigan, there are over 1,200 family lawyers in Michigan. That’s a lot of competition. But within that sea of faces I remember one attorney because she takes cases across the Upper Peninsula. Another emphasizes the fact that she is certified in the collaborative divorce process – a non-adversarial approach to settling family law matters. I, on the other hand have developed a niche practice of serving the LGBT community with their unique family needs. Each of these approaches give referral partners and potential clients a way to remember what we do and who our ideal client is.

So what is your unique business offering? What is it you can tell your business contacts that will make you stand out? By giving referral partners something to talk about you will make it easier for them to remember you and send you business.

Lisa Schmidt is the writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She provides blogs and web content for law firms and small businesses. If you need help developing your online presence, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.